The Born Miler: Exclusive Interview With Miles Batty

Miles Batty is a serious threat to contend for a spot on this summer's U.S. Olympic team. Photo: BYU

The collegiate record-holder is aiming for another NCAA title — and more. 

With one lap to go at this year’s Wanamaker Mile at the 105th edition of the Millrose Games, BYU’s Miles Batty stood a chance at winning the race outright. As the bell sounded for the final go around the track, he took a deep breath and surged forward. Recently turned pro Matt Centrowitz, last year’s World Championship bronze medalist in the 1500m, went with him. In the end, Centrowitz prevailed, but Batty set a new collegiate indoor record, running 3:54.54 and taking second. Batty is from Sandy, Utah and is currently a senior at BYU. He won the individual title at the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships in the mile and has one of the the fastest sub-4:00 mile debuts in U.S. history (3:55.79). Steve Holman has the fastest, running 3:53.31 in 1992.

Competitor.com caught up with Batty recently to talk about his stellar indoor season, get a peek at his training and discuss his post-collegiate running plans.

Competitor.com: It’s been over a week since you set the collegiate indoor mile at the Millrose Games. How are you feeling?

Miles Batty: I feel pretty good. It was a great experience. It was something I wanted to accomplish. I want to continue to stay strong with my training, because I think there are still things for me to achieve on the track but in the indoor and outdoor seasons.

Since you’re a senior, would you consider that record to be the capstone of your collegiate career at BYU or is there still unfinished business at another distance or event?

I wouldn’t say it’s the capstone. I’ve had a lot of other positive experiences like the [NCAA] National Championships last year. But it was nice to add my name to a record. I would put it up there as one of the best experiences I’ve had. But I would also be very disappointed if that was the last thing that I accomplished without winning any more national championships.

What do you want to do after you graduate in terms of running?

My original plan has always been to go to medical school. I pretty much have all my course work ready for that, but I’ve recently decided to put that on hold for a little bit and pursue post-collegiate running for a while. I want to see what I’m really capable of when it’s a full-time gig and I don’t have to worry about all the schoolwork that involves late nights and takes time away from training, so I’m really excited to give that a try and see what else I can accomplish.

So you’re going to go pro, then?

Yeah.

How long will you stay a pro?

At least a year or two and then see from there. As soon as I’m ready to go on, I’ll head to medical school.

Have you been courted by anyone? Are there any big training groups expressing an interest in you?

Technically, we aren’t supposed to talk to any shoe companies or anything. I think a few agents have communicated with Coach [Ed] Eyestone. I’m sure I’ll be able to work things out when that time comes.

Are you leaning towards any one particular group/location or is that premature?

Not really. I do see myself staying the first year in Provo with Coach Eyestone. I really enjoy it here. I like how things go with Coach Eyestone. We have a great partnership. I look forward to continuing that and seeing how much improvement I can get.

Is the mile the distance where you want to focus primarily as a pro or do you want to branch out into the longer distances like the 3000m, 5000m, and 10,000m?

I think you always have to be willing to experiment. I ultimately hope to end up in whatever event is the best for me. That’s always been the goal: to not necessarily limit myself to one event, but just do what I feel best at. I’m open to moving up in distance and doing more 5Ks, but I also want to stick with what feels the most comfortable. Until now, the mile has always felt the most comfortable to me. I’ve done some other distances, but the mile feels the best for me. As long as that’s the case, I’ll be sticking with the mile and 1500m.

Any dreams of breaking Alan Webb’s American record in the mile?

[He laughs.] I don’t know. That would be great, but I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. I want to take it one step at a time. You could have asked me three years ago what my goals were and I would have told you that I just wanted to keep getting better. I like to take it one step at a time and set incremental goals. One day, I may have that [Webb’s record] as a realistic goal. Right now, I have other things I need to accomplish first.

Tell me about the Wanamaker Mile. How did it come together for you? Now that you look back on the record, do you have say, “Ah-ha, I did such-and-such in training that made setting the record possible”?

Not particularly. I think a lot of it was the cumulative training. I was doing a lot of the same stuff that I did last year. This year, in fact, I’ve done even less speed. I talked to Coach Eyestone about this. We are trying to hold off on the speed work until later in the outdoor season. I was doing mostly strength work and I was kind of nervous about that. It’s really just doing a lot of the same type of stuff. I felt really good doing the workouts. They are the same workouts that I’ve been doing in the last year or two. I was just doing them faster and feel like I’ve kept improving. So there wasn’t really anything different. It was just about staying healthy and getting really good training.

What exactly do you mean by the term “strength work”?

Twice a week we do our speed work. This can be intervals, tempo runs, or Fartleks. I remember last year that I was on the track doing a lot more interval-type things. This year we’ve done a lot of the standard cross-country workout, which is a 5-mile tempo run where we are at a comfortable-hard pace. We usually get the intensity up pretty high, but this year for indoor track, we’ve done that workout a lot more. We’ve done it three or four times; every other week. It’s a staple of our strength training. I think that’s help me keep a bigger aerobic base and help me carry that over from cross-country season. I think the tendency is usually to lose that base the more I get into the indoor season.

Your coach, Ed Eyestone, is a renowned American marathoner. What’s he got you doing for your long runs? How far are you running in training?

Since I’ve been here, the standard long run has been 15 miles. I do that pretty much any Saturday that I’m not racing. I do that run for cross-country as well as track.

You are doing 15 miles once a week?

As long as I’m not racing. That’s the thing: I usually don’t train on Sundays. So when I was in New York, all the guys were going out for their long run, but when I race, I just miss out on the long run.

Do you not train on Sundays because of your faith [Batty is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints]–because you are attending services then?

Yeah. Honestly, it’s always been that way for me. I haven’t even considered it. It is something I believe with my faith about keeping the Sabbath holy. But I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to going out for a run on a Sunday. It’s worked for me so far; it works for my schedule and it works with what I believe as well.

I read in a previous interview that when you returned from your mission to Brazil, four years ago you were really out of shape and overweight. What are some things you can share that you learned about yourself and your training that allowed you to make a comeback like that?

The most improvement I saw was in the first six months. I had been home for five or six months and I ran a 4:05 mile indoors. It was a PR for me at the time. The biggest thing that kept me improving was just that I was really frustrated with the situation. It really bothered me to see guys finishing ahead of me that I felt shouldn’t be. The slowest freshmen on the team were finishing ahead of me in workouts. Most of it came from my determination to get better. I felt like I was almost embarrassing myself with the level of fitness that I had. I really didn’t like that feeling. I didn’t like being behind; I didn’t like being a nobody on the team. I was just really determined to get in shape. I felt like that was some of the hardest training I had where I was limping home every day, because I was so sore and beat up. I just really wanted to get better and finally got into competition shape.

Some people reading this interview might be in a similar position that you were in four years ago where they want to get back into racing shape after a bit of a break. What advice do you have for them on how to best get back into shape?

One thing I tell people that ask me this question is to have realistic expectations with what you want to accomplish. Focus on your short-term goals. Work on something you know you can accomplish—whether that is a time goal or a fitness goal. Work until you get there and as soon as you do accomplish that, don’t be completely satisfied with it. Set your sights even higher.

Going back to the Wanamaker Mile, describe what you were feeling when you heard the bell sound on the last lap. At that time did you think you could beat Centrowitz?

I was hearing splits with about 400 [meters] to go. I thought the lead pack was going to go out faster. I was trying not to worry the time too much. I knew it was going to come as long as I went fast. Honestly, in that last lap I was just trying to tell myself to compete for the win. I’ve felt like a lot of times in competitive races and I knew I was going to run a fast time that I’d get complacent and just cruise it in—not really dig down as deep as you can. I knew that Centrowitz was one of the best in the world. I knew that it’s not often that he will lose, but I just wanted to see what I could do and see if I could gain on him. We both accelerated quite a bit in the last 100 meters, but obviously I wasn’t able to find that extra gear needed to match him [Centrowitz]. Before the race, I told myself that I wanted to be patient, stay relaxed, and try and win. I wanted to go for the win and not be intimidated.

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